Innovative Urban Solutions for Climate Change

On Monday, September 10, Asia Society Northern California hosted a half-day forum focusing on urban innovations in the Asia Pacific Region, and more specifically, how these innovative urban solutions can meet global challenges such as climate change.

After welcoming remarks by Margaret Conley, Executive Director of Asia Society Northern California, the event started with a panel discussion on Smart Transportation for Healthier Cities, with Tian Feng, vice president of the California Architect Board and the District Architect at San Francisco BART District as the moderator. Panelists included Mayor Tom Butt, City of Richmond, California; Adam Langston, Energy Services Manager of BMW North America, and Cassius Jones, Head of Enterprise Accounts of Smarking. The discussion covered major developments in new, smart transportation options, such as the global growth of electric vehicles (EVs), driverless cars, and car and bike-sharing programs and discussed how the public and private sector could work together to promote multi-modal, highly efficient, and low-carbon transportation system. Mayor Butt emphasized that “making cities walkable is a huge challenge but needed for healthy cities.” Adam Langston commented that “to realize the benefits of a sustainable future, different sectors like the auto industry need to come together to focus on renewable energy and technology innovation.” Cassius Jones mentioned how his company works with cities to better manage parking by utilizing data, encourage alternative methods of transportation, and help decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the panel discussion on smart and clean transportation, Deland Chan, Co-Founder, Stanford Human Cities Initiative and Assistant Director of Urban Studies, Stanford University and Peggy Jen, RAD Strategies Coordinator, Chinatown Community Development Center had an interactive dialogue about the future of urban housing. The speakers examined local housing solutions in the face of various global challenges. They explored an innovative example of how the City of San Francisco has leveraged the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program and discussed how innovation could occur by re-shaping existing assets and adapting these ideas to next contexts for the 21st-century city. The session concluded with directions for urban innovations in tackling the immediate urgency of housing the world.

The Urban Innovations Forum was part of the U.S.-premiere of Coal + Ice, a month-long exhibition and climate action festival shedding insight on the various aspects surrounding climate change and its impact on the world.

COAL + ICE continues in San Francisco until Sunday, September 23. To find more events, please click here.